See The Challenges Of Balancing The Council Budget With The Budget Simulator
19th January 2017
Highland Council is encouraging people across the region to have a go at balancing the Council's books - using a budget simulator.
The Council is seeking feedback from local people as it prepares for the reduction in funding it receives from the Scottish Government.
The online tool is a new way to do this and gives people the chance to understand the choices facing the local authority and consider how increasing spending in one area means reducing the spend in another.
Budget Leader, Cllr Bill Fernie said "Over the last 6 years around £135 million has been taken out of the Highland Council's budget. This year sees another substantial reduction in funding and together with increases in costs, the budget gap is around £26 million. This is a real challenge for the Council, but we have to deliver a balanced budget. We have done our best to look at how we can make savings whilst causing the least impact on essential services and jobs. We have identified a range of savings to reduce this gap and before we put our full proposals to Council, we would like to understand what is really important to people in the Highlands.
"The Council cannot spend more than it has and there are some areas of the budget that have fixed costs and we cannot cut. The simulator cannot include the entire budget for this reason, but challenges residents to attempt the difficult task of cutting £14million from the budget.
"I would encourage as many people as possible to have a go at this innovative tool. You will also be able to see the potential impacts and consequences of reducing spending in certain areas and the difficult choices that Councillors have to make.
"By participating and showing us how you would choose to allocate the budget, we will gain a clearer understanding of people's priorities across the region as we move forward to set the budget on 16 February."
The budget simulator can be accessed at https://highland.budgetsimulator.com/
The simulator will be open until Monday 5 February 2017.
Recent outcomes of Redesign work were noted by Members at yesterday's Highland Council meeting. In the first year of the programme, 8 redesign projects were undertaken using a "Lean" approach and 36 staff have been trained as facilitators.
Motorists are being advised that The Highland Council is currently preparing to carry out resurfacing works at the following locations: • B862 Fort Augustus - Whitebridge - Torness - Dores – Inverness Road; specifically at Errogie Village (North Gateway), Errogie Village (South Gateway), and Compass Farm; and • B851 Errogie – Strathnairn – Daviot Bridge – Culloden Moor Road; specifically at Aberarder House. Advanced works notification signage will be provided at various locations from Thursday 15 March 2018.
The Highland Council has agreed a capital programme of £482m over the next 5 years. The Highland Council serves the largest geographical area in Scotland (over 30%) and has just under £2bn of assets on its balance sheet comprising, amongst other things, 203 operational schools, over 6,700km of roads and over 2,000 properties.
The Highland Council's Enforcement Officers have stepped up patrols in Caithness in a move to tackle the problem of littering, fly tipping and dog fouling. A number of fixed penalty notices have been issued recently including an £80 fine for dog fouling in the Stafford Lane and Back Bridge area of Wick, a £200 fine for fly-tipping on Ackergill Street and another £80 fine for dog fouling in Lybster.
Speaking ahead of today's Council meeting to agree the Council's Capital Programme for 2018/19 to 2022/23, Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of the Highland Council said:- "This programme delivers significant investment in a range of key projects across the Highlands. We are investing in schools, roads, bridges, harbours and flood prevention schemes that will benefit our communities.
Highland Council is to make a special case for extra capital investment in the road infrastructure after a winter period which has seen the Highlands battered by some 57 days of severe weather. Highland Council area is particularly subject to severe winter weather, which has a significant impact on the roads and other infrastructure.
Maps of the Council's gritting routes by priority and policy are available online at www.highland.gov.uk/gritting. The information provided is a summary of reports from operational staff and is intended to give a general indication of typical conditions in each area at a point in time.
The £48.5m Wick Community Campus built by Morrison Construction has been announced as a finalist at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2018. The project is entered in the category for "Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy" against eight other finalists from across the UK with the winner to be announced during a ceremony at Milton Court Concert Hall on 24 May 2018.
A Partnership for Procurement event was held in Inverness today (Thursday 6 March) to raise awareness and the capability of the third sector to successfully bid, supply and deliver services for the public sector. Partnership for Procurement (P4P) is a new initiative funded through the Scottish Government's 10 Year Social Enterprise Strategy; supporting social enterprises and third sector organisations to better access public contracts and build partnerships.
Across the Northern Alliance local authorities an exciting project has been rolled out to raise attainment in literacy, language and communication. The programme is being delivered in around 50% of primary schools across the Northern Alliance and is aimed at supporting practitioners to take a developmental approach to supporting early literacy development.
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